After 16 days of training, Julen Lopetegui now feels that Thibaut Courtois is ready to take his place between the posts for Real Madrid, and that could happen in the game against Girona in the Montilivi stadium tonight.
The Belgian signed for Madrid earlier this month after being awarded the World Cup Golden Glove. But he has an embarrassing record of conceding goals in his first game of the season. In fact, the ex-Chelsea man has been unable to keep a clean sheet in his opening game of the season for the past six years.
The last time: for Atlético in 2011
You have to go all the way back to August 25, 2011 to find the last time that Courtois did not concede a goal in his first game of a new campaign. That game was also his debut for Altético, who were playing the second leg against Vitoria Guimarares in the final qualifying round for the Europa league. In the first leg, then-Atlético coach Gregorio Manzano chose Joel Robles (now Betis’ goalkeeper) to play in goal, and the home side went on to win 4-0.
For the second away leg in Portugal, Manzano started with Courtois, who managed to keep a clean sheet as Atlético booked their place in the Europa League that season.
Gent and Chelsea
To date, that is the only time that Courtois has managed to not concede a goal in his opening game of a season. The previous season, while still at Gent, his first game was against Finnish team Inter Turku, again in a Europa League qualifier. And while his side dominated the game, scoring five goals, Courtois could not avoid letting one in.
And neither could he do so in his debut for Chelsea in 2013 away at Burnley, a game which ended 3-1 to the Blues. We will wait and see if he can end that horrible streak in his debut for Madrid, which could very well be tonight.